Comics Alternative Kickstarter: Madness in Crowds: The Teeming Mind of Harrison Cady

Historically Conscious

On the current Kickstarter episode, Derek talks with comics legend Denis Kitchen about Madness in Crowds: The Teeming Mind of Harrison Cady, the latest campaign from Beehive Books, in association with Denis.

Madness in Crowds will be a large-format hardcover art book — a towering 10″ x 14″ and with 176+ pages — collecting the works of the definitive early 20th-century illustrator and cartoonist Harrison Cady (1877–1970).

So, who was Harrison Cady? As Denis and company describes the artist:

Over the course of a 70 year professional career, he created countless overflowing worlds, bustling with life and energy and detail and chaos. His illustrations were generous, abundant, warm and humane. There was never another artist like him. He specialized in frenzied crowd scenes, in which each tiny character came armed with their own distinct personality and a sense of humor that projected off the page. He especially loved animals and insects, spawning and exploring vast eco-systems of creeping crawlers with human affectations: beetle ballerinas, ladybugs in spats and umbrellas, fiddle-playing mosquitos. A committed political progressive, Cady frequently made cartoons about women’s suffrage, injustice and the exploitation of the working classes. In his long and productive career, he laid an endless array of visual feasts out for the eyes of readers and art-appreciators all over the world. But, as is too often the case with illustrators and cartoon artists, his work faded from memory very quickly once his career ended. Though there remains a loyal cadre of fans and collectors, trading old tear-sheets and  weathered magazine clippings, his name is largely unknown by modern lovers of illustration, cartooning and graphic art.

As Denis tells Derek, this is an absolute must for any serious student of illustration and cartoon art. Not only are Cady’s visuals absolutely stunning, but this is sure to be a highly sought-after collectable in the years to come. What other reasons do you need to support this Kickstarter campaign? Head on over to their page and back Madness in Crowds!

Cover and Sample Art

 

Comics Alternative Interviews: Peter Normanton

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 02:19 – Setup of interview
  • 04:13 – Interview with Peter Normanton
  • 55:17 – Wrap up
  • 55:53 – Contact us

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Horror in the UK

On past episodes of The Comics Alternative, the Two Guys have discussed comics fandom and zine culture quite often, although usually the context surrounds American fan activity. But as Derek points out in his conversation with Peter Normanton, he has little knowledge of fanzines outside of the states, particularly within the United Kingdom. That’s why Peter’s latest book, It Crept from the Tomb, was such an enlightening read. Normanton was the publisher and editor of the UK horror zine, From the Tomb, which began in 2000 and ran for over 20-some issues. Several years ago, he was approached by Roy Thomas about the possibility editing a collection from the pages of his horror zine, and the result was The Best of From the Tomb, which came out from TwoMorrows Publishing in 2012. And then more recently, John Morrow asked Peter about a second “best of” collection surrounding From the Tomb…and this request eventually became Peter’s newest release, It Crept from the Tomb. In his conversation with Peter Normanton, Derek talks with his guest about his time as an editor and publisher, the history of comics in in the UK, his love of the horror genre and comics fandom, and the many challenges he faced in putting out a fanzine over the years.

NOTE: Over the course of Derek’s conversation with Peter, they experienced occasional problems with the internet connection. Peter lives in northwest Britain, and at times the connection on Skype was sketchy. So apologies in advance for the several breaks and momentary silences that are noticeable on Peter’s track. Still, the gist of his comments comes through clearly, so please overlook any technical difficulties they may have had.

Comics Alternative, Episode 281: Reviews of James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner and NOW #3, as Well as a Look at the 2018 Eisner Award Nominations

Time Codes:

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Modern and Different

This week Paul and Derek review two recent releases, and they also take the time to discuss this year’s Eisner Award nominations. They start off with Alfonso Zapico’s James Joyce: Portrait of a Dubliner – A Graphic Biography (Arcade Publishing). Originally published in Spanish, this is a look at the life of the famous Irish modernist, covering not only his accomplishments as a writer, but his family and personal relations, as well. As the guys discuss, Zapico’s text provides a general outline of the major events and relationships in Joyce’s life, but as with most comics-based biographies, the interiority of the subject is limited. At the same time, this is a well-paced and even detailed look at the author of Dubliners and Ulysses, with Zapico presenting a very human portrait of a writer most may only know from a critical distance.

After that, the Two Guys check out the latest issue of NOW, the Fantagraphics anthology edited by Eric Reynolds. This has become an ongoing obligation of The Comics Alternative, covering each issue of this anthology as it’s released. (Paul and Derek discussed NOW #1 last fall, and then Gene and Derek looked at NOW #2 back in January.) The latest collection brings together several artists contributing to previous issues — e.g., Noah Van Sciver, Eleanor Davis, and Dash Shaw — but also a variety of creators who are not only new to the anthology, but brand new to both Paul and Derek, as well. In fact, this is one of the things they enjoy about NOW, its diversity and the editor’s dedication to exposing the work of little-known comics artists. Some of the most notable pieces in this third issue are from contributors outside of North America, including Marcello Quintanhila (Brazil), Anne Simon (France), and Roberta Scomparsa (Italy).

The guys wrap up this week’s show with a discussion of the 2018 Eisner Award nominations. Paul and Derek do not make any predictions, nor do they second-guess the award judges or speculate as to internal dynamics about which they had no way of knowing. What they do discuss are the various creators and publishers under nomination, any trends or tendencies they can possibly discern from this year’s selections, the process of categorization and definition within the industry, and the sheer number of current nominees, artists and texts, that were actually discussed on The Comics Alternative.

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: Sock: The Comic Book

Footwear Crimefighter!

For this week’s Kickstarter show, Derek talks Rickman about his current campaign Sock: The Comic Book. It’s the (largely) wordless story of an unlikely hero displaced from his companion in the laundromat, and going at it on his own as a crimefighter.

Sock will be a 32-page black-and-white comic book, one that will be appropriate for all ages. Rickman describes the origins of Sock this way:

The idea came to me during the 1999 San Diego Comic Con while at the pool with friends after a day at the show. The conversation turned toward the weirdest comic characters we knew. Flaming Carrot, The Tick, Ed the Happy Clown, Reid Fleming: World’s Toughest Milkman, Sam and Max: Freelance Police, were all tossed about. The question was asked: what would be the wackiest thing to make into a comic? As my feet dangled in the water I glanced toward my shoes and saw my socks. I reached for my sketchbook (always next to me) and “SOCK” was born.

Offbeat, wacky, wordless, all-ages, lost laundry…what’s not to like? Be sure to check out Sock: The Comic Book, and see exactly what happens when your socks go missing.

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Comics Alternative Interviews: Alison McCreesh

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:49 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:18 – Interview with Alison McCreesh
  • 01:04:09 – Wrap up
  • 01:04:44 – Contact us

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Life North of 60

Readers of Alison McCreesh’s 2015 work, Ramshackle: A Yellowknife Story, know about the draw northern climates has on her and the love she has for pioneer-like exploration. In her new book, Norths: Two Suitcases and a Stroller around the Circumpolar World, released last month from Conundrum Press, Alison ramps up those affections. It’s an account of her six-month trip to circumpolar regions and her time in four art residencies in Finland, Russia, Greenland, and Iceland, all above the 60thParallel. Traveling with her partner Patrice and her son Riel, Alison kept a diary of her experiences in the form of postcards that she sent off almost daily to friends and supporters who had agreed to back her project. The result is a unique travelogue, in sequential postcard form, of her exploration of northern climates, her experiences at the various residencies, and her attempts at trying to balance life, work, and family. Norths is an engaging hybrid text, and in this interview episode, Derek has an insightful talk with Alison about her process, her love of travel writing, and whether or not she considers the new book a work of comic art.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Kriota Willberg

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:49 – Setup of interview
  • 00:03:58 – Interview with Kriota Willberg
  • 01:15:16 – Wrap up
  • 01:16:21 – Contact us

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Good Pus, Bad Pus

The Two Guys talk with a lot of comics creators about their craft, their ideas, and their passions. But they never really talk with them about their health. On this interview episode, Gene and Derek have as their guest an artist who is all about health and well-being. Kriota Willberg, whose new book Draw Stronger: Self-Care For Cartoonists and Other Visual Artists (Uncivilized Books) was released last month, discusses her experiences in health care, her years as a massage therapist, and how it all informs her creative trajectory. Draw Stronger is a text targeted to visual artists who work within fine and detailed contexts, and it provides helpful means to avoid pain and address the kind of physical practices that will best nurture creativity. The book is divided into three sections, revealing the basics of creative self-care, exercises that target a variety of body movements, and useful first aid to address stress and pain while waiting to visit a health professional. Over the course of their conversation, Kriota discusses the genesis of this project in her minicomics, the ways in which humor informs her approach, the vast research that went into this guide, and how her work in bioethics has impacted her comics.

Comics Alternative, Episode 280: Reviews of The New World: Comics from Mauretania, Young Frances, and A Walk through Hell #1

Time Codes:

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A Comfortable Fogginess

On this episode of the podcast, Paul and Derek look at three new releases that, while all compelling readings, are vastly different in style and narrative approach. They begin with Chris Reynold’s The New World: Comics from Mauretania, recently released from Gallery 13. This is a collection of Reynold’s Mauretania comics published beginning in the 1980s. This volume was designed by Seth, and he also provided a brief and insightful note at the end of the text. Neither Paul nor Derek had encountered any of the Mauretania stories before, and they’re sorry that they hadn’t read Reynolds any sooner. The narratives are dreamlike and random in their coherency, and while making any sense of their meaning and action can be an exercise in frustration, they are strangely some of the most compelling comics the guys have read this year.

Next, the Two Guys turn to a creator whom they’ve read and loved before, but not by his current name. Both Paul and Derek are big fans of the series Pope Hats, authored by Ethan Rilly, an anagram of Hartley Lin. In Young Frances (AdHouse Books), Lin is now using his real name and collects issues #2, #3, and #5 of his defining series. The text presents the story of Frances Scarland, a young legal clerk whose efficiency and competency are admired by those around her, but who nonetheless wonders if she’s just drifting through life without purpose. Her best friend, Vickie, is impulse and more scattered, yet talented enough to find a lead role acting in a hit television crime drama. This is yet another example of “verite dessinée” storytelling, a favorite of Derek’s and Paul’s.

The guys conclude this episode by looking at the first issue of Garth Ennis and Goran Sudžuka’s A Walk through Hell (AfterShock Comics). A mix of horror and crime, this first issue establishes the premise of the series but does so in a way that poses a variety of questions. In fact, both Paul and Derek feel as if this first issue ended almost too quickly — a sense that they’ve gotten with other AfterShock first issues — although there is enough in this inaugural installment to have them wanting to come back to the series. In this first issue, Special Agents Shaw and McGregor work a recent race-related killing while at the same time investigating the disappearance of two fellow officers. What they stumble onto, and we never get a sense of what that is, is apparently something so horrific that even the most hardened law enforcers are unable to live with what they saw.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Michael Kupperman

Time Codes:

  • 00:24 – Introduction
  • 03:18 – Setup of interview
  • 05:37 – Interview with Michael Kupperman
  • 56:33 – Wrap up
  • 58:16 – Contact us

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Clearing Out

On this interview episode, Gene and Derek are happy to have Michael Kupperman on the show to discuss his new book All the Answers, just out from Simon and Shuster’s  Gallery 13 imprint. Long-time fans of Kupperman will find a significant tonal shift from his earlier works such as Tales Designed to Thrizzle or Snake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret. This new book is an emotional and probing look at his father, Joel Kupperman, and his time as one of the famous Quiz Kids of the 1940s and 1950s. Throughout this memoir, Kupperman investigate his father’s history and attempts to understand how his time in the celebrity spotlight marked his life forever after…and at the same time, helped to determine his father’s future behavior and his family’s emotional trajectory. In this way, All the Answers serves not only as a way to understand his father, but as a means to grapple with Michael Kupperman’s own sense of self and how he relates to his own family. Over the course of their conversation, Gene and Derek talk with Michael about the research that went into his new book, the genesis of the project, his efforts in pursuing this extremely sensitive family history, and how All the Answers may be a stylistic turning point in his career.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: The 2018 Eisner Awards Nominees for Best Webcomic

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Getting It Right This Time?

After a month’s hiatus — and due to an accident that Sean suffered (although he’s recovering now!) — the Two Guys are back with their latest webcomics episode. And since it’s Eisner Awards season, Sean and Derek decided to discuss the nominees for this year’s Best Webcomic category. As listeners may remember, last year the guys were quite critical of the Eisner Awards judges. While they finally took the long-overdue step in separating webcomics from digital comics, they nonetheless seemed to have no clear understanding of what defined a webcomic. They included webcomics in the Best Digital Comic category, and digital comics in the Best Webcomic category. This year, the judges seemed to have correctly understood the distinctions, although Sean and Derek still have questions as to the parameters and qualifications as to the choices and decision-making process. Then again, theirs may not be to wonder why, but to discuss critically the webcomics under consideration. And the guys have a fruitful discussion concerning this year’s nominees:

Comics Alternative Kickstarter: Skullduggery, Issue 2

Perry Mason Meets Disney

This week on the Kickstarter show, Derek talks with Jason Beirens about his current campaign for the second issue of his series, Skullduggery.

Jason calls Skullduggery a “legal fiction,” a Disney-inspired crime narrative that is less police procedural and more based in the courtroom. His previously Kickstarted first issue of Skullduggery is described as

the beginning of a look into a double homicide of two known criminals by Judge Stewie Sponte, his assistant Maggie P.I. (a magpie) and his owl. Other characters come into play, two street smart tough guys, brothers Vinnie and Berg De Novo. Lastly, Whimsy Noir, as every detective story needs a dame, right?

Populated by anthropomorphic figures, curious criminals, and unusual courtroom proceedings, this will be a fully colored story worth checking out. And there’s even a reward level where you can get not only the second, but also the first issue, of Jason’s Skullduggery the series so as to get the entire story up to this point. Head on over to #2 campaign and see what it’s all about!

Cover and Sample Art

 

 

Comics Alternative, Manga: Finishing Up Monster, Othereworld Barbara, and Other Manga Series

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:33 – Setting up the episode
  • 00:04:17 – More listener mail!
  • 00:06:49 – Completing Monster
  • 00:49:03 – Completing Otherworld Barbara
  • 01:14:28 – Completing other manga series
  • 01:26:25 – Wrap up
  • 01:27:47 – Contact us

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Completion

On this episode of the monthly manga series — the April show, actually, albeit late — Shea and Derek revisit some of the titles that they had previously discussed. They talk about these series now that they have more volumes under their belts, and in some cases, have completed the entire series. The first of these that they discuss is Naoki Urasawa’s Monster (VIZ Media), a title that they first discussed in their July 2015 episode. The last volume of the English-language Perfect Editions was released in summer of 2016, and both Shea and Derek explore their experiences finishing up the series. As they reveal, Urasawa has a penchant for vast, multi-leveled narratives, filled with a wide cast of characters, and the guys discuss this style of storytelling, its thrills as well as its challenges.

Next, they turn to the completion of a story they first discussed on the September 2016 manga episode, Moto Hagio’s Otherworld Barbara (Fantagraphics). The second volume of this series was published in August of last year, and the guys revisit Hagio’s storyworld and its wrap-up. As they mentioned on their earlier episode, this is a complex, even vertiginous, narrative that involves dreamscapes, multiple narrative levels, and time interplay. Both of them appreciate Hagio’s conclusion, although at times they wonder about the story’s lapses into sentimentalism, and if the various narrative threads may not be a bit unwieldy.

Finally, the guys discuss other manga series that they’ve been keeping up with, even completing, individually. For Shea, that includes ONE and Yusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man and Yusei Matsui’s Assassination Classroom, both published by VIZ Media. Derek waxes enthusiastically about Inio Asano’s Goodnight Punpun (VIZ Media), Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero (Dark Horse Manga), and Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish (Kodansha Comics).

Comics Alternative Interviews: Another Conversation with Bill Schelly

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:24 – Introduction
  • 00:02:29 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:08 – Interview with Bill Schelly
  • 01:06:00 – Wrap up
  • 01:06:40 – Contact us

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A Fan’s Life

There’s perhaps no better historian on American comics fandom than Bill Schelly. Having been a part of the zine scene in the 1960s and early 1970s, and starting when he was a teenager, Schelly worked with many of the movers and shakers within the fan community and published several fanzines of his own. In the early 1990s he returned to comics as a chronicler and as a historian, writing various overviews of comic fandom, and then later making his mark as a comics biographer, covering the lives of such creators as Joe Kubert, Otto Binder, John Stanley, and Harvey Kurtzman, the latter biography earning him a 2016 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book. On this interview episode, Derek talks with Bill about his new book, Sense of Wonder: My Life in Comic Fandom – the Whole Story, and his decisions to revise and expand this memoir from its original 2001 version released through TwoMorrows Publishing. This new edition of Sense of Wonder, published by North Atlantic Books, is significantly expanded, covers Schelly’s entire life up until now, and is written with a much more personal, and revealing, tone than the original. Bill discusses in detail his history in comics fandom and his growth as an editor and writer, as well as the personal milestones that have marked his life.

You can learn more about Bill Schelly and his work by checking out his website.

Comics Alternative Interviews: Back with Zach Worton

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:25 – Introduction
  • 00:02:14 – Setup of interview
  • 00:04:00 – Interview with Zach Worton
  • 00:59:46 – Wrap up
  • 01:00:27 – Contact us
  • 01:01:46 – “Gotta Get You Outta My Head,” by Zorton and the Cannibals

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Self-Destruction and Tiki Bars

Zach Worton was last on the podcast about two years ago, around the time of the publication of the second volume in his Charley Butters series, The Search for Charley Butters. On that interview show, Zach discussed the development of his storyline and what to expect in the third and final volume of the series, The Death of Charley Butters. As fate would have it, Zach and his publisher, Conundrum Press, decided to hold off on publishing the third stand-alone installment, and instead, put out the entire series in one complete volume. The result is The Curse of Charley Butters, just released last month, and including the first two Charley Butter stories and what would have been the third. In fact, this complete collection reads as a tight, cohesive narrative, and getting all of the Charley Butters installments in one nice volume is definitely the way to read this story. In this interview Derek talks with Zach about the genesis of his project, the challenges involved in its serialization, the stark nature of the storytelling, and the experience of taking his protagonist down an ever-darkening downward spiral. Zach also discusses his other new work, The Weird World of Lagoola Gardner, a magazine-sized comic whose tone is completely different from Charley Butters, looser, more comedic, and reminiscent of the kind of free-wheeling garage band- and tiki-influenced publications of the late 1960s.

Comics Alternative, Episode 279: The May Previews Catalog

“It whets my appetite, and I don’t know what the hell it’s about”

This week, Paul and Derek take an extensive look at the May Previews catalog. In fact, their look is so extensive that their discussion evolves into an extra-long episode, spanning almost three hours! (Then again, listeners of the podcast probably are used to these long Previews episodes.) The Two Guys begin by sharing listener mail, and then they make a few comments about some of the changes Diamond has made to their catalog over the past couple of months. After that, they jump into the nitty gritty of the episode, highlighting a variety of solicitations that catch their eye this month. Among the many publishers and titles that they focus on are: